Renewable Energy for Everyone

The Evergreen Institute, Gerald, Missouri, 2009

Last week DanF, George, Scotty, and I all went out to the Evergreen Institute in MO to teach a 6 day workshop on how to build a wind turbine.  This is one of the latest projects Dan Chiras is taking on ~ to provide a forum for workshops on sustainable living and renewable energy.  It's a beautiful piece of land with a large classroom building, a nice house with a downstairs apartment, a big barn to work in ~ a pond, and 50 acres to hike around on.  It's located just outside of Gerald MO.  We had a total of 17 students, our goal was to start with pipe and other bits of steel, magnets, wire and some lumber and finish with three wind turbines, 7, 10, and 12 feet in diameter.

The Barn is huge, perhaps 5000 or more square feet.  It's fairly empty - has a nice concrete floor, good lighting etc.  It was fairly devoid of tools when we showed up, so the day before the workshop we had to create a metal shop, wood shop, and an 'alternator shop' - and classroom space with a movie screen, breakfast area, tables, a white board and seating for about 25 folks.

The house was perfect, downstairs was a 'public' bathroom with shower ~ some sleeping space and a public kitchen/laundry area.

Dan presented a very good 'intro to wind' course throughout the workshop.  He talked and gave a power point presentation for perhaps the first two hours of every day.  This was the perfect way for folks to wake up... drink cofee, and learn some realities about small wind energy.

After Dan gave his presentation I'd give a bit of a talk about what we needed to to and why.. and, what got done, what went well... what didnt etc.  Some of the folks wanted to argue about the best ways to do things and about how things worked so I decided to charge extra for arguments.

This might have been an argument, we are not sure.

It was quite a lot of work, we pretty much started at 8:00 am and ended at 5:30.  Every day ended with a cold drink and a beautiful sunset.

Metal Work

Pictured above is George with the can of 'George Repellant' that we had to provide for the students in case George got out of hand...

We brought magnet rotors that had been cut on a water jet table for the 12 foot and the 10 foot diameter machines.  Pictured above LC is using a compass with a torch to cut out the rotor for the smaller 7 foot turbine.

At home we have a small milling machine but there we only had a small, fairly fast drill press - so, to cope pipe they had to use a big heavy/slow hand drill.  Pictured above folks are cutting through 2 inch pipe with a hole saw.

We took most of the grinding work outside because of the noise and dust.  Pictured above Mike is cleaning up the tail bracket for the 12 foot machine.

The 12 foot turbine is just like the 'blue diamond' we made in Nicaragua with a few small changes.  The stator bracket is fabricated from 2.5 inch x 3/8 inch bar stock.

We didn't have a vice big enough to hold the 12 foot machine at the right angle for setting up the tail bracket...  so we welded the machine to the table so we could get it setup right.

Pictured above I'm explaining the position of the tail boom.  It's at somewhat of an angle up, so that it looks nice - and to the side to help it run square with the wind.   I find that none of these machines run that square to the wind all the time and the angle we put there is about 10 deg.  More would probably square it up more, but I think it looks funny so it's a compromise.

Welding the tail boom to the 12 foot wind turbine.

We brought stainless steel banding so we could band the magnet rotors.  Bill brought lots of his own welding equipment - normally we mig weld the bands, but the tig welder is probably a better way to go.  Pictured above they're tig welding the bands so that later we can heat them up and shrink them around the magnet rotors.